Jug Bay is a small bay off the Patuxent River in Southern Maryland. The bay is surrounded by wetlands that is gleaming with waterfowl and many other birds including ospreys. The Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary was established to protect these wetlands from the sprawling urbanization that is surrounding this region. The Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary provides an oasis in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. A visit to the Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary is an oasis from the concrete jungle.
Some of you are saying, “This is lovely. You can walk through here having no idea that you are in a major metropolitan area. This is real nature. There is one big problem. There are no railroads here. Therefore, I do not see this place as any kind of oasis at all.”
You do have a great point. There are no railroads in this sanctuary. The nearest railroad is three miles away in the town of Upper Marlboro, and that is just a freight line. For passenger service, you must travel much further. When you visit the Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, you will not see any railroads… but it was not always the case.
The Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary is a nature preserve that has miles of hiking trails. However, nature is not the only thing preserved here. What else is preserved here? As you hike around, you will come upon what may look like to you as an old railroad bed. Did a railroad come through here? As you walk along, you see what looks like old railroad ties. Where are you? You are walking on the right-of-way of the old Chesapeake Beach Railway. You walk on the section that was built into the Patuxent River. Wetlands are on both sides. You find yourself at the Patuxent River. You see Mount Calvert, a mansion house, on and embankment across the river. Then you see and old bridge support right in the middle of the river. It was here where the railroad crossed the river, and it continued west along the edge of the Mount Calvert property. With the rail bed being the only way to the river, you follow the railroad bed back to the shore, and then you see a cut. The trail goes next to the cut, but you can look down into the cut. You imagine what it was like to be working on the railway seeing this scenery every day. The trail takes you into the cut, but you come to a creek. The railroad bridge is long gone, but you follow the trail that takes you across wooden bridges that takes you to the other side where the railroad bed continues. You continue along the roadbed until you finally come to a road. The trail ends, but the road before you follow the route of the old Chesapeake Beach Railway.
From the Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, the old roadbed passes through what is currently private property. To see to old roadbed again, you would have to depart the sanctuary and then drive east on Maryland Route 4, and then exit at Maryland Route 260. As you are on the exit ramp, you can glance out to your right and see the old bridge supports where it crosses Lyons Creek. Once on Maryland Route 260, you will find yourself on the original railroad bed. Most of the state highway apart from the last two miles was built on the old railroad bed. Sadly, most of the old roadbed passes through private property. As you arrive in the town of Chesapeake Beach, you can see some of the roadbed was converted into a rail trail. The entryway into the Rod-n-Reel Restaurant and Chesapeake Beach Spa and Resort was part of the original right-of-way with the old train station (now a museum) in its original location.
The Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary is in Lothian, Maryland off Maryland Route 4 in Southern Maryland at 1361 Wrighton Road. It is owned and operated by the Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation and Parks. You can get more information at https://jugbay.org/.
Now you have a good reason to visit The Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary. You can see the place where railroad travelers once saw for themselves.